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Photo: Joan Mitchell Foundation.
Photo: Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Joan Mitchell Foundation Refocuses Funding Model with Extended Fellowship

The New York–based Joan Mitchell Foundation has announced the launch of the Joan Mitchell Fellowship, a new program that will provide fifteen artists working in the fields of painting and sculpting with an unrestricted grant of $60,000 apiece, to be paid out over a span of five years, during which time recipients will also be provided access to such services as private consultations with arts professionals; networking meetings; and programs focused on personal finance, legacy planning, and thought leadership. Fellows are also eligible to apply for a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. The inaugural cohort will be chosen by a jury following a nomination process, and will be announced in October 2021.

The initiative represents a reimagining of the foundation’s traditional Painters & Sculptors Grants, which launched in 1994 and annually awarded twenty-five artists unrestricted grants of $25,000. The Joan Mitchell Fellowship, which supplants that program, arose out of an intense examination of the grants, taking place in 2019 and 2020, and is meant to provide the recipients with a steady income stream that will allow them to build their creative practices and careers. The professional services also are seen as being key to artists’ success; through them, the foundation hopes to provide opportunities for resource sharing, collaboration, and sustained critical discourse.

“Our new fellowship expands the foundation’s giving model, more than doubling our financial support to each artist and furthering our commitment to unrestricted funding as essential to providing artists the flexibility necessary to advance their careers,” said the foundation’s executive director, Christa Blatchford, in a statement. “Although the foundation was already framing out this new approach before the Covid-19 pandemic, the crisis further underscored the barriers to financial security that visual artists face and the ways in which year-to-year funding practices contribute to that vulnerability. Our new approach allows for a more sustained engagement, both financially and in our professional development practices, that we hope will offer greater stability and more opportunities for career growth. We see this shift as critical to continuing to best enact our mission, as set forth by artist Joan Mitchell, to support the lives and careers of working artists.”

The foundation additionally announced that it will be sunsetting its emergency grants program, in place since 2005, in an effort to focus its resources on the new fellowship, with which it hopes to address some of the underlying conditions that lead to financial instability for artists.

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